Canyon Girl

2475500-2B._View_from_lower_part_of_canyon_1_

Canyon Girl

“Somethin’ in me’s crossed over.” Thelma, Thelma and Louise

Come to the cliffside
& dance with me
The air in the abyss
is henna redgold
& fine
Yeah, we could fall

With or without our fear,
we dangle over the void

And we could
be beautiful & brave

We are orange
& flame high
& we will blaze

From Professor Kahf’s unpublished manuscript of love poems.

(Photo by Russell Cothran, courtesy of University of Arkansas Public Relations Office.)

(Photo by Russell Cothran, courtesy of University of Arkansas Public Relations Office.)

Mohja Kahf  is a Syrian-American poet and novelist.  Her first collection of poetry, E-mails from Scheherazad, evokes the mixture of pride and shame involved in being an “other,” with characters balancing on the line between assimilating and maintaining the habits of a good Muslim.  In addition to contemporary Muslim women, Mohja’s poetry also explores figures from Islamic history including Hagar, the wife of the prophet Abraham, Khadija and Aisha, wives of the Prophet Muhammad, and Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad.  According to The New York Times, her writing on contemporary subjects “draws sharp, funny, earthy portraits of the fault line separating Muslim women from their Western counterparts.” Of the intersection of Islam and art, Mohja says: “One of the primary messages of the Qur’an is that people should recognize the beautiful and do what is beautiful. This is not simply a moral beauty but a visual and auditory beauty as well. Conduct should be beautiful, writing should be beautiful and speaking should be beautiful.”